‘The light is different right now’ for Cardinals QB Kyler Murray

Nov 16, 2023, 4:00 PM

TEMPE — Change is inevitable.

Whether it’s for the better or for the worse, big or small, change is bound to happen in life.

For Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, that change came in the form of a torn ACL that forever altered his career a little more than 11 months ago.

Including the game he went down in, Murray had missed 14 straight contests up until this past Sunday.

That time spent away from the field was anything but carefree, with surgery and then later rehab consuming Murray’s life. No longer was it about throwing touchdowns and picking up first downs with his legs in front of the limelight. It was mainly behind the scenes, where the praise isn’t as loud and the movements much more strained.

But while Murray will be the first one to say that not every day was ray of sunshine, he acknowledges the worth of battling through it all and coming out the other side a changed man.

“I think I’m a different person,” Murray said Wednesday. “I think just some things that happen to you, you can’t really control, they either elevate you or bring you down. But I think this is one of those things that, like I said, everything happens for a reason. I think it was for the better. Not only for me, but just for everyone.

“I think that a lot of people keep saying that I’m different. Like, ‘He’s such a better leader now. He is this and that.’ I just think the light is different right now. I think people around me, teammates, everybody — it’s just different energy.”

Among those who witnessed Murray’s change firsthand were veteran teammates D.J. Humphries and safety Budda Baker.

With Murray’s typical offseason plan of heading back to Texas for the majority of the off time thrown out the window due to his condition, the signal caller got most of his work in within the fences of the team’s training facility in Tempe.

Right there working alongside Murray was Humphries, who was dealing with his own rehab from a back injury that cut his 2022 season short.

Despite having protected Murray from opposing defenders since the QB joined the team as the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the lineman learned some new things about his signal caller, including just how funny he can be.

Baker wasn’t oblivious to the change taking place, either, during their interactions with one another.

“He’s a guy who loves the game, a guy who’s very focused each and every day comes in and works very hard,” Baker said last week. “He’s in there talking to guys, communicating, cracking jokes but also talking to various guys on the team, whether that’s offense, defense, special teams. He’s continuing to be that leader that we know he can be and just very excited to have him back on the field.

“Each and every year you want guys to continue to grow, including me and including everybody,” the safety added when asked if Murray was doing more than he had done in the past. “I would say that (he is).”

How are you feeling, K1?

Now having a few days to recover and see how the knee responds after game action, how are you feeling, Murray?

“Pretty good. I’ve practiced, but there’s nothing like a game to be able to kind of try to anticipate how I’m going to feel,” Murray said Wednesday. “That was kind of big for me to see how I would feel after the game. A little sore, but I feel good.”

Old habits die hard

Murray’s 2023 debut wasn’t just about him returning to action post-ACL tear, though that rightfully led headlines.

It also marked the first time Murray operated in an NFL offense not schemed up or called by former head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

For the most part, Murray looked comfortable running the show with offensive coordinator Drew Petzing in his ear.

That’s not to say there weren’t some moments where Murray thought back to the previous scheme of things.

“I will say being in a different offense for the past four years, it was new. It was definitely new,” Murray said. “A lot of (new) terminology and stuff like that. Being out there, seeing a certain coverage and thinking back to like old habits or things that we would do, but at the same time being in the moment and not being able to go to what I would normally go to and having to stay with what we’re doing now.

“There are definitely some old habits that want to creep back in when you’re out there, but no, it’s good breaking those habits and trusting the process. What Drew is coaching and teaching has been great. As far as training camp, no it doesn’t feel like that. Last year, I missed a lot of reps, and I felt a little different. This year, I feel pretty good.”

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